The "treatment gap" remains one of the biggest obstacles for health officials trying to curb the opioid crisis. With only one in ten with substance use disorders seeking help, the reasons in avoiding treatment are many. Some say stereotypes can get in the way.
Ed Cichon, Director of Marketing and Communications at Cazenovia Recovery Systems, believes the conversation regarding substance use disorders needs to change. He says images of cloaked, hooded figures injecting needles or popping pills can be misleading.
"If people see those kinds of images they are not going to associate themselves with that kind of person in a lot of ways," Cichon said.
"So if they are not identifying with the person they're seeing portrayed with a substance use disorder they may not think they have that problem even though they might be suffering from an opioid addiction."
The opioid crisis has changed perspectives on drug use. The reality, Cichon points out, is that substance use disorders are impacting a wide swath of society.
"There's no set demographic to this anymore."
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, 40 percent of those who know they have a problem are not ready to stop using. More awareness may trim into that number, and Cichon wants struggling individuals to understand there is a way forward.
"We try to tell stories of people in our programs who have achieved dreams, they've reconnected with their families, they've gotten jobs, they've gone back to school. There is a lot of help and support for people out there right now," Cichon said.
"There is hope out there."